Are You Willing to Work?
HOBOES, bums and beggars used to be at the bottom of the social scale, primarily because of their distaste for work. But today attitudes toward employment are changing. As one writer expressed it, “Work [in itself] has fallen into disrepute.”
‘What is responsible,’ you may ask, ‘for this negative attitude on the part of many toward work?’ Actually there are several causes.
For one thing, the advent of mass production, especially accelerated in the latter half of this twentieth century, has made many workers little more than numbers, statistics in a computer-controlled operation. As individuals, as human beings, they seem almost lost. Personalities are practically nonexistent.
Naturally this has its effect on people’s attitudes toward their work. The man on the production line who takes a personal pride in his work is rare indeed. Motivation of personal interest in one’s work is largely gone. The ambition for achievement in personal craftsmanship is absent. Where this is the situation, any incentive to work springs only from the necessity to provide for family and dependents, or from the desire to satisfy some personal or sensual craving. It becomes no longer a case of work for the work’s sake, but only for the pay received.
Such attitudes breed contempt for the work itself, and in many cases make a man hate his job. So, with no love for the job he becomes lazy and indifferent. His heart keeps urging him to do as little work as possible—the bare minimum to hold the job. His feelings toward this particular job may affect his attitude toward work in general. At home he plants the same seeds of discontent in his children, and soon the next generation shows all the symptoms of the same lazy-man’s disease.
Other Causes for Negative Attitude
The very structure and policies of the present economic system foster unemployment; those now out of work number in the millions. Many, perhaps the majority, of these people are willing to work if only they can find a suitable job. But their very state of unemployment tends to create in them frustration and bitter resentment, which, in turn, breeds hatred and violence. To counter this, governments devise various dole systems and welfare assistance plans to curb violence and revolutions by hungry people.
Social welfare roles have increased astronomically in the last decade. Why, the number receiving welfare in New York city alone increased 290 percent from 1960 to 1972—a jump from 324,214 to 1,265,301!
While the majority of these persons may be unable to work, admittedly many thousands of them are able-bodied and fully capable of working if they only wanted to. This is one of the unfortunate by-products of welfare programs—a brood of people who would rather live off a handout than be usefully employed. Then too, there is an increasing number of persons who would rather shoplift, rob and mug others than work for an honest wage. It is as the proverb says: “The one showing himself slack in his work—he is a brother to the one causing ruin.”—Prov. 18:9.
Then there are other attitudes toward work reflected by the current generation. For example, young people fresh out of school seem to be living in a world that just cannot wait for anything; everything must be instantaneous. Along with “instant” coffee and tea they expect “instant” success, and their idea of success is often equated with high pay and a titled position of importance.
People who think in this way may view those who labor with their hands or back muscles as somehow retarded. They may frown on what are called “blue-collar” jobs as something beneath their dignity. In their eyes executives, computer technicians, market analysts and consultants are the intelligentsia. However, Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, once said that “there is no substitute for hard work,” that “genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.”
Now, what is your view on these matters?
God’s View of Work
If you find that you have been influenced to some extent by the modern attitude toward work you do well to consider God’s viewpoint and his principles on this subject as expressed in his Word the Bible. Only by following the Bible’s counsel will you find a measure of happiness and contentment in this present competitive system. Only then will you be prepared to live in a paradise earth under the administration of Jehovah’s new order.
“Work” has been defined as the expenditure of physical and mental effort to accomplish a given purpose or to produce something. The Bible tells us that Jehovah himself has been and is a most diligent and careful worker. Likewise, his Son the Lord Jesus Christ industriously works at his assignment. (Isa. 40:26; John 5:17; 9:4) Would not Jehovah and Christ Jesus expect those who hope to live under God’s Messianic kingdom arrangement to have a similar desire to work? Most certainly so!
One of the Creator’s original blessings bestowed on man was “work.” Jehovah God, when settling Adam in the garden of Eden, commanded him “to cultivate it and to take care of it.” He was also told to multiply, and to ‘subdue’ the earth, while at the same time having in subjection the fish, birds and animals. And “after that God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.”—Gen. 2:15; 1:28, 31.
That was quite an assignment of work, and the fact that it was given to the sinless perfect man shows that work in itself is a blessing and not a curse. Outside the perfection of Eden and outside God’s favor, because of the frustrations associated with Adam’s sinful state he no doubt had to work much harder to eke out a living in the sweat of his face amid thorns and thistles. Yet, Solomon observed that hard work that yields good results, followed by proper eating and drinking, is a blessing “from the hand of the true God.”—Gen. 3:18, 19; Eccl. 2:24.
The Bible shows that with earth’s expanding population, work became more and more diversified. Some people made tents and raised livestock. Others constructed musical instruments. Some mined and smelted copper and iron ores and forged tools from these useful metals.—Gen. 4:20-22.
In the first century C.E., Christians engaged in a variety of secular occupations. Jesus was known as a carpenter. (Mark 6:3) Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen. Simon of Joppa was a tanner of leather; Lydia of Thyatira, a seller of purple, either the dye or dyed fabrics; Paul, a part-time tentmaker.—Acts 10:5, 6; 16:14; 18:2-4.
Bible Commends Willingness to Work
“The gift of God” is for a man to “see good” for his lifetime of hard work, the Bible tells us. (Eccl. 3:12, 13; 5:18) But the Bible condemns in no uncertain terms the sluggards and slothful persons who are indifferent toward their work or, worse yet, who refuse to work.—Prov. 10:4, 26; 13:4; 15:19; 19:24; 21:25.
Wrote the apostle Paul: “We desire each one of you to show the same industriousness . . . in order that you may not become sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” And those who had “faith and patience” were indeed hard workers!—Heb. 6:11, 12.
Instead of winking at the indolence of some persons in the early Christian congregation who did not want to work even though able, the apostle condemned them. We read: “Make it your aim to live quietly and to mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we ordered you . . . and not be needing anything.” Later, to the same congregation Paul again wrote: “When we were with you, we used to give you this order: ‘If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.’ For we hear certain ones are walking disorderly among you, not working at all but meddling with what does not concern them. To such persons we give the order and exhortation in the Lord Jesus Christ that by working with quietness they should eat food they themselves earn.”—1 Thess. 4:11, 12; 2 Thess. 3:10-12.
Interestingly, the Russian Communists who are so openly opposed to the Bible, quote this statement of the apostle Paul to support their tenets. We read: “In the U.S.S.R. work is the duty of every able-bodied citizen, according to the principle: ‘He who does not work, neither shall he eat.’” (See the Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Article 12 .)
You may be willing to work for material riches, for some position of honor or for the praise and adulation of others, but what is your attitude toward working for Jehovah God the Creator and his Kingdom interests? Are you just as energetic and ambitious for this kind of work? Are you willing and happy to be Jehovah’s slave?
Listen to what Jesus counseled: “Most truly I say to you . . . Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you.” (John 6:26, 27) Follow the apostle Paul’s advice too: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men, for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward of the inheritance. Slave for the Master, Christ.”—Col. 3:23, 24.
If you do this, then ‘before these Great Kings, God and his Son, you will station yourself,’ to your everlasting reward.—Prov. 22:29.